If randy, bed-room-farce vicars, anti-“Zionism” and vanishing congregations were not enough to beclown the Church of England, it has reverted to its noxious habit of setting aside any nonsense about rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and resumed meddling in election politics.
Apparently blithely unaware that the Thatcher administration saved Britain from something like Greece’s fate, the church has issued a 52-page political manifesto demanding, as the Telegraph summarized, that “Thatcherism should be consigned to history because it no longer has the answers to Britain’s problems.”
Forgetting perhaps the strike-bound, impoverished Britain Thatcher inherited, and the valuable reforms she undertook, like breaking the Stalinist-led miner’s union and allowing public-housing tenants to buy, sell, and borrow against their own houses, the church’s senior clerics claim a free-market economy is “fragmenting” society and “entrenching inequalities.” Never mind that the overweening union power Thatcher successfully took on was the major force entrenching inequalities and preventing upward social mobility for millions.
Yet the only alternative to a free market, which the clerics apparently refuse to acknowledge, is an unfree market.
The manifesto calls for an end to politics as an “extension of consumerism” — “consumerism,” of course, meaning allowing people to buy and sell what they want. Who are the clerics to presume to dictate that this is wrong?
They might have saved 51-plus pages by reducing their manifesto to the words “Vote Socialist!” This is despite the fact that under the Tories employment has been growing and welfare dependency falling (I say this as one who has been very critical of the present Tory Government on other issues).
It also warns against “racism,” meaning right-of-center parties that want restrictions on immigration, now causing major social problems.
Asian grooming gangs have sexually abused and enslaved hundreds or thousands of British girls, particularly (1,400 victims) but by no means exclusively in Rotherham, while churchmen, police, social workers and local government members, terrified of possible accusations of racism, looked supinely on. The first to succeed in bringing this to public attention and stimulating official action, was a brave member of the “racist” British National Party. (Politically correct Labour had a huge majority on the disgraced local council.)
Despite a near-obsession with “racism,” sections of the Church are hotbeds of anti-Jewish activity. The odious BDS (Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions) movement against Israel is strong in some, though certainly not all, sections of the church (the evangelicals and some others do tend to be strongly pro-Israel). The Church of England has taken no action apart from a six-month ban on using social media against a vicar, the Reverend Stephen Sizer, who spread anti-Semitic propaganda suggesting that Israel was responsible for 9/11. He previously attended a conference in Iran on this subject.
The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt. Rev. Tom Stevens, adds, “a new vision is required in which neither the State nor the market can accumulate the kind of unfettered power which divide people one from another and defeat hope and purpose.” This is practically unintelligible, like saying a new vision is required between oranges and triangles.
What does the Bishop think “the market” is, anyway? It is simply a mechanism for the free exchange of goods and services, and all other alternatives that have been tried have failed, often disastrously.
Further, every industrialized country recognizes that market externalities occur and certain social welfare provisions are necessary. Any idea of a laissez-faire society is a myth. It has never existed and never will (social welfare spending actually grew under Thatcher).
Former Thatcher Cabinet Minister Lord Tebbit, whose unemployed father famously “got on his bike and looked for work,” said: “I think this is just a case of ‘If you can’t do your own job, tell someone else how to do theirs.’ If the Church was growing in strength and the pews were more full every week than the week before, I think I would tend to listen more carefully to what they say.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I say to the bishops, I hope they would welcome [government policy] because it does bring dignity, it does bring self-reliance, it does enable people to provide for their families, it creates a stronger society as well as a stronger economy.”
One bishop said this was typical of “superficial, tribal responses,” as though the church’s manifesto was not, while Michael Brown, the church’s director of mission, claimed the response showed Britain’s political culture was “unfit for purpose.”